Thursday, July 19, 2012

Say Hello to Author BOB CLARK!

Bob Clark is an Open Heart Publishing alumnus, twice over. His stories have appeared thus:

"Whatever LuLu Wants", published in An Honest Lie, Volume 1:
Encouraging the Delinquency of Your Inner Child

"A Taste of Death", published in An Honest Lie, Volume 2: Delusions of Insignificance

We welcome him again to An Honest Lie, Volume 4: Petulant Parables, with his story "Valet Girls".

By way of introduction, I should mention Bob is a displaced American who currently finds himself in the Philippines. I asked him to tell us a little about that.

I now live in a 3rd World country and most people are poor beyond anything that might be imagined in the US. I have adapted by not adapting. Though my income is quite humble by American standards, I am extremely wealthy by the standards of the people around me now and I have used that wealth to live a better life than theirs. I actually have a toilet that flushes and a real shower in my bathroom. In contrast, my next door neighbors bathe fully clothed in the water piped in from a spring across the street. I go there to get my pure water when they are not bathing or washing clothes. My neighbors have no running water in their place, most of which is open to the elements.

 It is rainy season now and a typhoon (Hurricane in the West) is dumping copious amounts of liquid sunshine on this island but there are no winds here. We are dispatching the worst to China.

I was asked by a friend in the US if I got a letter sent to me and I told her that if she sent anything, I didn't get it. That is normal because #1, there are NO mailmen here. #2, the postal workers open most mail from overseas and #3, they are corrupt and will steal anything of value. We are used to it. Nobody uses the mail system here. Bills for electricity, water, and cable come by way of a courier who is paid by the companies. He finds a way to attach them to the gate. All of that changes next year when I get back to Texas.

We look forward to having you back in the States. Your Filipino adventures sound interesting. I know most of your stories are set in Texas, but do you plan to include the Philippines in any of your stories?

When I lived in the US, all my short stories were based in South Texas and the Mexican border. I know it well. Though I have lived and worked almost everywhere, the region is my favorite and Corpus Christi is my personal paradise. My novellas are also about life in the southern part of the Lone Star State, but my novels take place elsewhere. Since my move to the Philippines, I have compiled a collection of short stories about life and death in the islands on the other side of the Earth where I am surrounded by happy, smiling, and very gentle people.

Happy and smiling people. That sounds wonderful. Seeing as you are "on the other side of the Earth," how do you find support for your writing? 

Since my parents are gone and my siblings rarely write, I rely on friends worldwide for support. From time to time, I send some of my recent stories to friends in other countries and I get honest feedback, but they are not writers and don’t know how to tell me what’s wrong. I am forced to do that by myself. While English is spoken here, it is really a secondary language to the almost 200 other languages spoken in the Philippines, and most people here don’t read books in English. I think if it were not for the staff at Open Heart, I would not know if my stories were publishable. Even without support, I write because I like it. 

I for one am glad you write -- I've enjoyed your stories -- and I'm happy to be part of your support network at Open Heart Publishing. Can you tell us a little about how you grew up?

My childhood was back in the mid 20th Century, before people dreamed up all sorts of ugly things to say about their childhood. I had a loving father who worked nights on the railroad and slept during the day most of the time. We saw him when he had days off and when he drove to Florida with us on family vacations. My mother was the disciplinarian in the family and she did everything in the home. She stayed home all day and took care of me, an angel, my younger brother, a devil, and my sister who was very bright until she discovered boys.

My father was a brakeman on the Central Railroad of New Jersey in the days when railroads were giving freight away to trucking, and passengers were choosing cars and buses for transportation. I became a weather observer in the Army out in the blazing hot desert of Arizona. Easy job. "It is hot and sunny again today. That makes 2215 days straight, Captain." After I got out, I was in radio, but once when radio deserted me, I decided to try railroading. It wasn’t for me. Not artistic enough. I went back into radio for the rest of my working life. I have written about a lot of things, but you will not find railroads in any of my stories and only brief mentions of radio. I don’t find them to be interesting, at least not yet.

I bet your railroad and radio stories are a lot more interesting than you think. Can you tell us how you heard about Open Heart Publishing?

This is my third shot with Open Heart and I truly appreciate it. I heard about it by way of Craig’s List of all things. Debrin asked for submissions and I sent one of my dozens of stories in.

So this is your hat-trick copy, lucky number three! I've enjoyed your earlier stories, and can't wait to work with you on "Valet Girls". Tell us a little about your writing process. I understand you do not like typing.

One place I can’t write is at the keyboard. All of my writing is done with a gel pen with black ink (never a pencil) and a yellow legal pad, or white if yellow is not available. If I am out and about, I use a notebook small enough to slip into a shirt pocket (every shirt I own has a pocket, even t-shirts), and I have written stories or parts thereof in fast food restaurants, city parks, buses, or lying on my stomach in the bed. When I am finished, then I go to the computer and take everything I have scribbled and move it over so that I can read it.

Why did you never learn to type?

When I made it to high school, I was asked what elective subjects I wanted to take, and Typing was one of them. When I got my list of subjects from the school, I noticed Typing was missing. I went to the Office and was informed by the Principal that Typing was only for girls. I got back at her later by throwing up in her car, a big Packard, after a class trip to see the original "My Fair Lady" on Broadway.

It's not an interview until someone vomits, is it. I'd like to ask you a fun question which has nothing to do with writing. Can you tell us about the last time you were pulled over by a police officer?

The last time I was pulled over by a police officer was about 3 years ago. It was at 2 in the morning after work. My job at the time was as a test driver of new cars, and I was driving home on the major highway going through Corpus Christi, Texas. At one point, I had something in my hand and dropped it on the passenger seat. I started patting around the seat and found nothing, so I let my fingers go in the crevices between the back and the seat. My concentration was not on the road and I think I may have seemed to be a drunk driver. Lights came on behind me, and when I saw it was the cops, I pulled over. I have often worked with the police and I know the drill. Since I don’t drink, the officers smelled no alcohol, and my explanation seemed plausible to them. They said, "Have a good morning," and let me go home.

Lucky you.

Bob, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions with such thoughtful and insightful responses. I look forward to reading your latest story, "Valet Girls", in An Honest Lie, Volume 4: Petulant Parables. Please remain safe, and keep those stories coming.


Following a stint for the US Army as a weather observer in the Arizona desert, Bob worked in radio and TV as an on air personality and newscaster. Four decades and 25 states later he said adios to broadcasting. Shortly after retiring, his creative side came to the fore when he sat down to write a brief outline for a movie. 300 pages later, he had a novel.

Several of Bob’s short stories have been published including two in an anthology of stories to be read in forensics competitions in high schools. “The Card” and “The Price of Dining Out”, published by To Be Read Aloud Publishing in Prose To Be Read Aloud, Volume 1. 

“Whatever LuLu Wants”, published by Open Heart Publishing in An Honest Lie, Volume 1: Encouraging the Delinquency of your Inner Child, “A Taste of Death”, published by Open Heart Publishing in An Honest Lie, Volume 2: Delusions of Insignificance, and “Valet Girls”, published by Open Heart Publishing in An Honest Lie, Volume 4: Petulant Parables. 

“Hearts in the Sand”, published in Front Porch Magazine, Winter-Spring 2011-2012 edition.

No comments: